Saving the Planet One Story at a Time
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Stripping down to nada but nature’s own swimsuit to fundraise for a cause is what the Ladies of the Lake Calendar was all about. Inspired by the women of Yorkshire who raised over 2 million pounds, initially for a couch in the visitor’s area of a hospital and then for Leukaemia Research & Lymphoma Research; the Ladies of the Lake made a statement for Lake Simcoe.

The first Calendar Girls from the UK were motivated to take action after John Richard Baker, husband of Angela Baker, passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at only 54. It could not have been predicted that their success would be so vast that the story was not only picked up by Buena Vista International and Touchstone Pictures and awarded several prizes including a Golden Globe, but it also visited Toronto as a play at the Royal Alexandria Theater earlier on this year.

The Ladies of the Lake started their fundraiser in 2006 with the “Naked Truth” Calendar to raise awareness for Lake Simcoe, 4th largest lake in the province. Their success was so massive that they later made another calendar in 2009, “Drink it. Swim it. Fish it. Love it”,  with the help of the Federal and Ontario governments, and photographer Jim Panou. Sold at only $15.00 a piece, they were able to raise over 400,000 for the lake.

Annabel Slaight and the Ladies of the Lake are tirelessly raising awareness of the many obstacles that are keeping Lake Simcoe from health. Whether it is by explaining the science behind it in simple ways, or by teaching us what we can do to help, the over 100 women in yellow t-shirts were ready to raise up to the occasion. And they have.

Some people are wondering  these days how to help Canadians develop better water consciousness when most of us think water comes from the refrigerator door, and when asked what is a watershed is might easily reply “it’s a shack in the yard for water bottles.”

There’s no question we take water for granted. So how do we all start valuing water for what it is worth?  Social marketing mnemonic prompts might well remind us to turn off the tap – but to me that sort of effort is just wasting water in different way.

Our Ladies of the Lake work on Lake Simcoe has shown us that a lake or a river is much more than something to be used, and that water is not just a commodity. First hand we’ve seen water’s great powers to teach, inspire and connect us.  As people, business and government grapple with unprecedented social, economic and environmental change, we believe, as U.S. ecologist David W. Orr puts it: “Water can help us flow to a place where mind and habitat are reconnected and where our needs for shelter, warmth, energy, economic well being, health , creativity and conviviality all connect.”

That’s why Ladies of the Lake is taking a lead role in a growing group of people and organizations nurturing the idea of a Water Centre for Innovation, Research and Learning on Lake Simcoe. We see this as a 21st century hub of activity where children, students, scientists, artists, businesses, government and citizens of all types come together to celebrate and learn about water.  And, inspired by water, we see a place where the ecological, social, cultural, economic, recreational and spiritual meanings and benefits of water come together.

The first big step towards a water centre  –to show what it might be—is to  happen August 13, 2011 at the first SPLASH Floating Water Festival on the shores of Lake Simcoe in leafy  De La Salle Park, Jackson’s Point. We invite everyone to join us in  experiencing  the many powers of water… water music, water art, water sports,  water inventions, water learning with a good measure of  fun and fresh local food thrown in . See more at www.splashfestival .ca — and see you there!